Extending it’s fight against illegal immigrants, South Africa’s Home Affairs department says about 200,000 Zimbabweans could become illegals in South Africa.
Home Affairs minister, Malusi Gigaba announced this on Tuesday, saying 200,000 Zimbabwean nationals living in South Africa through the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation Permit (ZSP) may be in the country illegally after the end of 2017.
He said the since the ZSP could not be allowed to continue in the country forever, some Zimbabweans may be forced to regularize their stay in the country or apply for visas like other foreign nationals.
There were 197000 people on the ZSP which acknowledged that many Zimbabweans were concerned about their status in the country after December 31 2017, when the ZSP is due to expire and cannot be renewed.
“We can’t offer permanent residency for such a high number of people,” said Gigaba, adding that this would set a precedence of permanency.
Gigaba’s comment about Zimbabweans illegally living in South Africa follows a previous announcement that the Home Affairs department would begin deportation of undocumented Lesotho nationals.
Gigaba mentioned it while giving an update on the Lesotho special permit application process which was introduced to regularize the stay of Basotho people in SA for work‚ study or business. The permit closed in December.
He said that the government was working on a proposal to have quotas on the number of economic migrants in the country as was first made in the green paper on international migration in June,
Economic migrants, according to the Home Affairs Department, refers to foreign nationals who migrate for economic reasons such as seeking employment or to conduct business.
Speaking in Pretoria where he announced that his department would start enforcing the South African law requiring that 60% of all workforces should be made up of locals in the hospitality sector, Gigaba said he wanted all companies in South Africa to comply with the 60% requirement.
He, therefore, pleaded with Zimbabweans to take full advantage of other visas provided in SA as he plans to make an announcement on the ZSP before the end of this month.
“We will make a well-thought-out decision, hopefully with the support of my cabinet colleagues,” he said.
Meanwhile, Roshan Dadoo of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in SA spoke against the department’s decision on the 60% enforcement, saying this made no sense as employed Zimbabweans in the country will be declared illegal.
This will also create fear and uncertainty, she said, adding that the enforcement of the 60% requirement would add a layer of bureaucracy as it was unclear whether Home Affairs had the capacity.